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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Disease brings poor crop of circles
Crop circle
Foot and mouth disease reduced crop circle sightings
Foot-and-mouth disease seems to have affected the number of mysterious crop circles appearing through the summer, according to a Wiltshire farmer.

Tim Carson had only one new circle appear on his land this year - until rural access restrictions were lifted a month ago.

He said: "I had a phone call to ask if the footpaths were open round our way.

"I said 'Yes', and that night a crop circle appeared. Read into that what you will."

Researchers trying to explain the phenomenon say it may be caused by the Earth's magnetic field - but they admit many circles are hoaxes.

Linked stars
Elaborate patterns are man-made, say experts
The high number appearing in Wiltshire has been linked with the presence of ancient remains such as Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill.

The circles are a familiar sight on Mr Carson's land at Manor Farm in Alton Barnes, near Marlborough.

He knows that at least two of this year's circles were not created by alien beings.

He said: "We had one circle during the restrictions and then the footpaths were reopened and we have had six since then.

Disney film

"Two of them I know about because someone was making a film, and he asked me if he could make them.

"It's a love story and it's got crop circles in it."

Line of circles
Simple circles may not be fakes, say experts
Mr Carson could give no details, but said the director hoped to release it after another movie hits the big screen, probably next year.

The Disney film, Signs, is about circles appearing on a family farm in Philadelphia.

Scientist Colin Andrews, who has spent 18 years researching the strange manifestations, says about 80% are man-made.

Mr Carson is not amused by the fakes. "It's a waste of crops, trespass and criminal damage," he said.

Massive circle

But he admitted to being intrigued.

He said: "My neighbour's just had one that's absolutely massive.

Two circles
Circles are common in Wiltshire
"If you work it out, it's not dark for that many hours in summer, and this consists of about 300 separate circles.

"There must have been a circle made every 30 seconds.

"It would have taken an army to do that, and there's no way an army could have gone undetected.

"It's something that defies belief."

There is no mystery about what makes the circles disappear - the annual harvest.

"We've removed two already and the other five won't stay much longer," said Mr Carson.

See also:

09 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Going round in circles
24 Jun 00 | Media reports
Crop circles mystify Russian farmers
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